Sonoma WaterWise Demonstration Garden
Sonoma County Master Gardeners have partnered with the City of Sonoma, the Sonoma County Water Agency, and the Sonoma Community Center, to create a a waterwise demonstration/teaching garden of approximately 4,000 square feet in the area of existing lawn in front of the Community Center’s building in the City of Sonoma. The garden will demonstrate the principles of water conservation, low-water gardening, drip irrigation, rainwater/gray water re-use and storm runoff abatement. The Sonoma Community Center is a two-story brick building listed on the Historic Register located at East Napa and Second streets in Sonoma.
As a responsible community citizen, the Sonoma Community Center had been searching for ways to reduce water usage and costs. In conversations with the City and the Water Agency over the past number of months, it seemed that a low water garden could also contain a teaching element. Master Gardener Cathy Williamson had been in conversation with the City about a demo garden project, and the connection was made to combine forces on the SCC site.
SCMGs Harriet Derwingson and Steven Hightower joined the project team, and SCMG and garden designer Jan Bryant was recruited to do the actual garden design. This project team has come up with a concept, garden design and project plan that will lead to a fantastic demonstration garden asset to the City of Sonoma by year-end.
The garden is divided into several sections, and incorporates different areas of hardscape, which, along with existing “art pads” will accommodate the art shows and other public events that occur frequently at the Community Center.
- California native plants
- Mediterranean low-water garden
- Cal-Med plantings
- Lawn Substitutes
- Children’s herbal & touch garden
- Cacti, succulents and dry streambed garden
- Rain Gardening
Several different aspects of low water, drought tolerant, sustainable gardening are demonstrated within the garden:
Design Elements Illustrated
- All-drip irrigation system, highlighting different elements of drip
- Smart controller (donated by Hydropoint Systems of Petaluma) using daily ET and weather information for maximizing watering efficiency
- Waterwise and drought tolerant plant section
- Hydrozoning to group garden sections by water needs
- Drip irrigation and watering cycle calculations
- Lawn substitutes and alternatives
- Rainwater collection and rain gardens
- Storm water runoff reduction
- Permeable hardscape materials
Progress and Plans
- The design and plant inventory have been completed.
- Initial removal of high-water shrubs was recently accomplished.
- Initial commitments for donations of compost, mulch, irrigation parts, smart controller and a portion of the plant inventory are in hand
- Much of existing (dying) lawn will be sheet mulched in a community demonstration project in early September.
- Drip irrigation installation is expected in early September, followed by
- Hardscape installation in late September, followed by interpretive signage
- Garden planting will be a community volunteer effort over several workdays in October.
- Garden completion is scheduled for the end of October, with Grand Opening to coincide with the Community Center’s annual meeting and celebration November 17th.
Garden Events, Usage, Ongoing Maintenance
The Master Gardeners will complete a garden upkeep and maintenance manual for ongoing SCC use.
SCC will be responsible to arrange for community volunteers, and workdays to perform garden maintenance, which will be supervised by Master Gardeners.
Master Gardeners will hold periodic seminars and workshops in the garden on the topics of water conservation, low water garden creation, lawn conversion, sustainable gardening and other appropriate topics.